I agree with Jesse. There is no true digital preservation format except for MAYBE ASCII. Any format that you use will eventually be superseded with something else. Regardless what it is your going to have to convert and migrate (kind of like filming old paper documents that are falling apart?) over the life of the document.
In KY we use PDF (with hope of someday using PDF/a) as our standard for state publications and other "published" documents (we have an archive writer, so film is still our preservation standard) in our data archive. We also use Microsoft office formats (notably Word and Excel) because it is our state's Enterprise IT Architecture Standard. I know that Word isn't a good long-term format, but the state will continue to support Word for the foreseeable future, and our state IT folks are incredibly resistant to any open-source software because of the "security issues" (or the contract with Microsoft - did I say that out loud . . .) We keep multiple versions of documents in multiple formats (Word and PDF for example). We have chart modeled after the Library of Congress file formats grid: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/formats/ that advises agencies on what formats are the best to use for long-term sustainability and which are the worst. As long as
the information can be converted to something else if needed, we're happy.
We have been working with the folks at the San Diego Super Computer Center for several years on various projects that investigate grid storage technology and metadata libraries and so forth. But no one can still say "this is THE format to use." Even the SDSC folks talk about registering the format, collecting metadata about the format, maintaining the bit stream, and then hope, using all of that information, you can rebuild the document or convert into another format in an acceptable form.
So yes, if your relying on Word your bound to the will of Redmond. But if you rely on Open Office, your hoping that enough people support the format over time and it doesn't fade into the sunset.
Mark J. Myers
Electronic Records Archivist
Technology Analysis & Support Branch,
Public Records Division,
Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives
300 Coffee Tree Road PO Box 537 Frankfort, KY 40602-0537
Phone: (502)564-8300 ext. 244
Email: [log in to unmask]
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